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Full text of "Cameo portraiture in America"

NK 

5720 

C5 

1918X 

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CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

IN 

AMERICA 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OF 

JANE CATHERINE LOUISE 
VALUE CHAPIN 

Cut by Annable about 1850. 



CAMEO 
PORTRAITURE 

) IN 

AMERICA 
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BY 



HOWARD M. CHAPIN 



ILLUSTRATED 



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PROVIDENCE: 

PRINTED BY 

THE PLIMPTON PRESS 

FOR PRESTON & ROUNDS CO. 

MCMXVIII 



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lUad April 10, 1918 



^VVSONIAM INSTlfo 



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AUG 31 1943 

8792 



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MfCTIOIIOFflSL! 



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TAM deeply indebted to Mr. Lawrence 
Park, Mrs. Joseph T. A. Eddy, and 
the Museum of Fine Arts, at Boston, for 
their assistance and cooperation; to Pro- 
fessor William C. Poland, Mr. Charles 
Henry Hart, Mr. Charles K. Bolton, 
Mr. Howard W. Preston, and Mr. L. 
Earle Rowe for their suggestions and in- 
terest; and to the printed works of Isabel 
Moore, Francis Hobart Herrick, and 
C. Hart Merriam. 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



J. C. L. V. Chapin 

J. B. Chapin 
J. S. Lincoln 
Four Hunt Bros 
H. Greeley . 
Audubon . 
Audubon . 
John Hutton 
Ephraim Abbot . 
G. Morey 



By Annable 

Frontispiece 

" Annable . 15 

" Annable . 19 

" Hunt . . 21 

" King . . 25 

" King . . 29 

M King . . 33 

" St.-Gaudens 35 

" Foley . . 37 

" Unknown . 41 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 
IN AMERICA 



A CAMEO is an engraving 
cut in relief upon stone, 
shell, glass, or other hard 
substance having two or more 
layers of color, and so treated 
as to utilize the effect of the 
variety of coloring. Although 
this is the common usage of 
the word "cameo/ 5 it is given 
as its second meaning in most 
dictionaries, which give for its 

first meaning an engraving in 

[ii] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

relief as distinguished from an 
intaglio. The derivation of the 
word "cameo" has not been 
traced. 

Cameos are usually cut in 
agates, sardonyx being the best 
adapted to the purpose, or 
in certain tropical shells hav- 
ing two layers of color. These 
shells are found at the Isle of 
Bourbon, near Madagascar, at 
Ceylon, and at some of the 
West Indies. On account of 
the fact that those shells from 
Ceylon were shipped to Europe 
via Calcutta, the shells used 
for cameos are often called 
" Calcutta shells." 

[12] 



IN AMERICA 



Among the substances less 
commonly utilized for making 
cameos are certain birds' eggs, 
glass, glass paste, lava, coral, 
and various hard minerals. 

The art of cutting gems and 
semi-precious stones in low 
relief goes back many centuries 
before Christ. The earliest 
cameo now known is the stone 
in the ring of Polycrates, which 
was carved by Theodorus of 
Samos in the sixth century be- 
fore Christ. 

The art of cameo-cutting was 
practiced extensively by the 
Egyptians, Greeks, and Ro- 
mans, but fell into disuse dur- 

[13] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

ing the fourth century a.d., 
and although occasionally prac- 
ticed was not revived upon a 
large scale until the fifteenth 
century. Then it came into 
vogue in Italy and spread to 
France, where for a time it was 
extensively cultivated. At pres- 
ent very little cameo-cutting is 
done outside of Italy. 

My interest in portrait cameos 
was first aroused by a gift from 
my aunt of shell-cameo portraits 
of my grandfather and grand- 
mother. 

My historical point of view 
naturally led me to study the 
antiquity of cameo portraiture. 

[14] 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OF 

DR. J. B. CHAPIN 

Cut by Annable about 1850. 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

Cameos, you doubtless real- 
ize, are generally cut in alle- 
gorical or ornamental designs, 
but cameo portraiture has been 
occasionally practiced. 

The earliest extant cameo 
portrait is that of Ptolemy II 
and his first wife, Arsinoe. It 
dates from between 285 and 
279 B.C., having been cut in a 
three-layer block of sardonyx 
six and a quarter inches long 
by five inches wide. This 
cameo, usually known as the 
"Gonzaga Cameo," is now pre- 
served at the Hermitage in 
Petrograd. 

A slightly smaller nine-layer 

[16] 



IN AMERICA 



sardonyx cameo portrait of 
Ptolemy II and his second wife, 
also named Arsinoe, is preserved 
in Vienna. 

Cameo portraits of Demet- 
rius Sotor and his wife Lao- 
dice, of Augustus, of Livia, and 
of Germanicus are extant, the 
latter being by the artist Epi- 
tynchamus. A later cameo por- 
trait is considered to bear the 
likeness of Marcus Aurelius 
and Faustina. Constantine's 
portrait was also cut in cameo, 
but after his time the art de- 
clined. 

Cameo portraiture w^as re- 
vived in the Renaissance. 

[17] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

Likenesses of Francis I and his 
Queen, of Charles V, of Philip II, 
of Jerome Savonarola, and of 
King Rene were cut in cameo. 
A cameo portrait of Alexander 
de Medici was cut in plasma. 

The most noted cameo artist 
of the later Renaissance was a 
Frenchman, called "Coldore," 
who cut in cameos the portraits 
of Henry IV, Louis XIII, and 
Queen Elizabeth. 

Turning now to American 
cameo portraiture, I naturally 
began with those in my own 
possession and found that they 
were cut by a local sculptor, 
George O. Annable, of Provi- 

[18] 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OF 

JAMES S. LINCOLN 

Cut by Amiable. 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

dence. He had studied draw- 
ing under my grandmother, and 
later, having chosen sculpture 
as his field, cut her likeness in 
cameo as a mark of his appre- 
ciation of her instruction and 
assistance. He also cut a por- 
trait of my grandfather. The 
difference in the execution of 
the two cameos is striking; 
that of my grandmother shows 
the spirit of the artist at his 
best, executing an appreciation, 
while the other, though done 
gratuitously as a companion 
piece, clearly approaches in 
spirit the plane of a commercial 
commission. 

[20] 



■ «3 S J 



n £ ts 






CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

George 0. Annable, the son 
of Jeremiah and Mary B. Anna- 
ble, was born about 1829. He 
had a studio in the Hoppin 
building in Providence, and in 
1850 cut a cameo portrait of 
Dr. Nathan B. Crocker, the 
rector of St. John's Church. 

The following account from 
the Providence Journal of Janu- 
ary 18, 1851, gives us an idea 
of Annable's work and ambi- 
tion. 

"Annable is dreaming of 
Italy and languishing for the 
commissions which would put 
him in possession of the means 
to go there to study. Mean- 

[22] 



IN AMERICA 



while he is not idle, but is giv- 
ing renewed demonstration of 
his genius for art by some 
highly successful specimens of 
cameo-cutting. The last and 
best we have seen is a spirited 
copy of the truly clerical head 
of the Rector of St. John's 
— a most excellent likeness. 
The sharpness of outline, and 
smoothness and delicacy of fin- 
ish, of this little work, are really 
admirable." At the exhibition 
held in 1851 by the Rhode Is- 
land Society for the Encour- 
agement of Domestic Industry 
George O. Annable received the 
highest prize, $10, for "medal- 

[23] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

lions and cameos, likenesses, 
very truthful, and also exhibit- 
ing a very commendable prog- 
ress in the art." 

In the printed report of that 
Society we find the following 
reference to this artist: 

"With respect to the medal- 
lion heads and cameos by Mr. 
George O. Annable, of Provi- 
dence, the committee heartily 
concur in the general expres- 
sion of opinion. They are ex- 
cellent;- and considering the 
youth of the artist and the 
short time which has passed 
since his first work was pro- 
duced — remarkably so." 

[24] 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OF 

HORACE GREELEY 

Cut by John C. King. 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

In 1853 cameos were ex- 
hibited by Annable and were 
described as "capital like- 
nesses and finely executed." 
He received a silver medal, 
the highest premium, for por- 
trait busts in marble and 
cameos. 

Beside the portraits of Dr. 
Chapin, Mrs. Chapin, and Dr. 
Crocker, Annable cut a cameo 
likeness of James S. Lincoln, 
the portrait painter, who in 
exchange painted Annable's 
portrait. This cameo portrait 
of Lincoln is in the possession 
of Mrs. Joseph T. A. Eddy of 
Hingham. Annable's cameo 

[26] 



IN AMERICA 



portraits were cut in shell and 
were usually about an inch and 
a half tall. 

Annable married Miss Jane 
M. Tripp in Providence on 
June 2, 1863, and died in 
Brooklyn, N. Y., April 22, 1887. 
He was buried in the North 
Burial Ground in Providence 
on the 26th. 

Extending my study from 
Providence to Boston, I found 
seven cameo portraits in the 
Museum of Fine Arts. Four 
of these were cut by William 
Morris Hunt and are mounted 
in a bracelet. They are like- 
nesses of the four Hunt brothers, 

[27] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

Richard, Jonathan, Leavitt, and 
William Morris. 

William Morris Hunt, the 
son of the Hon. Jonathan Hunt, 
was born at Brattleboro, Ver- 
mont, in 1824. He studied at 
Harvard, at Dusseldorf, and 
later under Couture, at Paris, 
where he became the friend of 
Millet. He returned to Amer- 
ica in 1855 and resided for a 
while at Newport, after which 
he settled in Boston. In 1875 
he published his " Talks on 
Art," and died in 1879. Al- 
though not exactly a Rhode 
Islander, he resided for a time 
at Newport, and two daughters 

[28] 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OP 

JOHN J. AUDUBON 

Cut by King about 18 %k* 
From the Farwell Photograph 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

married into a prominent Rhode 
Island family, one becoming the 
wife of Samuel Slater, while 
her sister became the wife of 
Samuel Slater's father, Horatio 
Nelson Slater, Jr. 

The Museum of Fine Arts 
also possesses two cameo por- 
traits by John C. King. One 
is of Horace Greeley and the 
other of Benjamin Franklin. 
About 1844 King cut a cameo 
portrait of the naturalist Audu- 
bon. The following account of 
this cameo appears in an ar- 
ticle by C. Hart Merriam in 
the Auk for October, 1908: 
"My father and Mr. King were 

[30] 



IN AMERICA 



great friends, and on one occa- 
sion, when father dropped into 
Mr. King's studio, he found 
Mr. Audubon sitting for the 
cameo. Mr. King introduced 
the two gentlemen and asked 
them to start a conversation, 
which was continued during the 
sitting. The two men became 
so animated in their interest- 
ing conversation that they for- 
got where they were, and thus 
the artist was enabled to catch 
the natural and striking expres- 
sion of the great ornithologist. " 
A photograph of a cast made 
from this cameo was presented 
by King to Mr. O. Atkins Far- 

[31] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

well of Detroit in 1871, and a 
cast of another cameo of Audu- 
bon, made by King between 
1840 and 1845, was given by 
the sculptor to Mr. Frederic 
H. Kennard of Boston. The 
original cameos which were cut 
in shell were not located by 
Mr. Merriam. A medallion 
from the Farwell photograph 
is reproduced on the cover of 
Francis Hobart Herrick's "Au- 
dubon the Naturalist." 

John Crookshanks King was 
born at Kilwinning, Ayrshire, 
Scotland, October 11, 1806. 
He attended school until about 
fifteen years old and then be- 

[32] 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OF 

JOHN J. AUDUBON 

Cut by King. 
From the Kennard cast 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

came a machinist's apprentice, 
although devoting his spare 
hours to drawing and painting. 
He came to America in 1829, 
and in 1832 met Hiram Powers, 
through whose influence he took 
up sculpture. In 1840 he set- 
tled in New Orleans, where he 
made marble busts and cut 
portrait cameos. He soon 
moved to Boston, where he 
had a studio and continued his 
work until his death, in April 
1882, and was buried at Mount 
Auburn. He was unusually 
fond of animals, especially birds. 
The other cameo portrait in 
the Museum of Fine Arts is of 

[34] 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OF 

JOHN HUTTON 

Cut by Saint-Gaudens. 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

the Hon. George Morey. It 
is considered to be American 
work, but its sculptor is un- 
known. 

The public collections of New 
York and Philadelphia proved 
barren to my search. 

But in Maitland Armstrong's 
recollections of Saint-Gaudens 
I found the following account of 
his cameo work: 

"Saint-Gaudens often told 
me of the trials he had suffered 
as apprentice to a cameo-cutter, 
a Frenchman, who spent his 
holidays and Sundays in shoot- 
ing snipe on the Weehawken 
Flats. The young craftsman 

[36] 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OF 

REV. EPHRAIM ABBOT, 1779-1870 
Cut by Margaret Foley. 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

was compelled to walk all day, 
lugging his master's game bag 
and running after the snipe he 
shot. Never would he admit, 
even in confidence, that the 
bag was a heavy one, so loath 
was he to give 'that fellow' 
credit for anything; but there 
is not much hazard in the guess 
that snipe were then in a more 
flourishing condition on the 
'Flats' than is the case to-day, 
and that the sport was pretty 
good for the master. 

" Cameo-cutting was soon 
abandoned, but not before 
Saint-Gaudens had become very 
skillful at the trade." 

[38] 



IN AMERICA 



Still more pertinent to our 
quest is the account in Isa- 
bel Moore's "Talks in a Li- 
brary with Laurence Hutton," 
wherein Hutton said: ''That 
eight dollars — the first money 
I ever made for myself — was 
invested in a sentimental way, 
in the gold setting, as a finger 
ring, of a small, shell-cameo 
profile protrait of the father, 
cut by a boy of about my own 
age, with whom then I had 
but slight acquaintance, but 
who, in later years, has become 
my very good friend. His name 
is Augustus Saint-Gaudens. 
Very many years later a shell- 

[39] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

cameo brooch, in what is called 
a shadow-frame, had its place 
in the Thirty-fourth Street 
house, upon the piano in the 
dining-room; and one night at 
a dinner party, at which were 
gathered many distinguished 
men and women to meet Sir 
Henry Irving, the box and its 
contents attracted the atten- 
tion of a guest who happened 
to sit opposite to it. In the 
middle of the symposium he 
jumped up, grasped the object 
in both hands, and said: 'Lau- 
rence, where did you get this, 
and who is it?' 

''It's my father, given by 

[40] 




CAMEO PORTRAIT OF 

HON. GEORGE MOREY 

Artist unknown, but said to have been an American 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

him to my mother on the 
twenty-fifth anniversary of 
their marriage. She wore it a 
little while, but it was too con- 
spicuous as a personal orna- 
ment; and after his death she 
put it in that frame/ 

"The excited guest exclaimed: 

"'Your father?' 

"'Yes, my father.' 

"He then asked in great 
excitement who did it. 

"I replied: 'I don't know. 
It was cut long ago by a little 
artist in a studio over Broug- 
ham's Lyceum, afterwards Wal- 
lack's Theatre, on the corner 
of Broadway and Broome 

[42] 



IN AMERICA 



Street. Who he was or what 
his name was, I do not know, 
except that he was a clever 
little Frenchman/ 

"The attention of the whole 
party was by this time at- 
tracted to the dialogue. Look- 
ing at the cameo in its case, 
and his hand shaking a little, 
the guest said: 

"'He was a clever little 
Frenchman, was he, and you 
don't know his name? Well, 
I'm the clever little French- 
man, and my name is Saint- 
Gaudens. It's the earliest piece 
of my work extant, and when 
you and Mrs. Hutton get 

[43] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

through with it, I want it for 
Gussie and the boy/ 

"And when we do get through 
with it they are to have it." 

At the suggestion of Mr. 
Bolton, I wrote to Mr. Law- 
rence Park of Boston, in the 
hope that he might know of 
some portrait-cameos, and he 
surpassed our expectations in 
being himself the possessor of 
a portrait-cameo by Margaret 
Foley. This cameo is the like- 
ness of Rev. Ephraim Abbott, 
a great-uncle of Mr. Park. 

Biographers differ as to where 
Margaret Foley, or Margaret 
E. Foley, as she is sometimes 

[44 ] 



IN AMERICA 



called, was born. Some give 
her birthplace as Vermont, 
while others place it in New 
Hampshire. She was appar- 
ently largely self-instructed in 
her artistic work. 

Mrs. Clements says of her: 
"At length she made some rep- 
utation in Boston, where she 
cut portrait and ideal heads in 
cameo. She then went to 
Rome." Some of her works 
were exhibited at the Centen- 
nial Exposition at Philadelphia 
in 1876. Tuckerman wrote of 
her that she "achieves new and 
constant success in her relie- 
vos." Her medallions of Wil- 
li 45] 



CAMEO PORTRAITURE 

liam and Mary Howitt, of 
Longfellow, and of William 
Cullen Bryant, and her ideal 
statues of Cleopatra, of Excel- 
sior, and of Jeremiah are consid- 
ered to be the best specimens of 
her cameo work. 

She died in 1877 at the home 
of Mr. and Mrs. Howitt, at 
Menan in the Austrian Tyrol. 



[46]